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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Review: Louisiana Fever by D. J. Donaldson

This is an engaging, suspenseful, and timely mystery with lots of forensic detail and distinct characters.
Louisiana Fever
by D.J. Donaldson
File Size: 746 KB
Print Length: 301 pages
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions;
Reprint edition (March 5, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Genre: Forensic Mystery
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
“D.J. Donaldson is superb at spinning medical fact into gripping suspense. With his in-depth knowledge of science and medicine, he is one of very few authors who can write with convincing authority.” --Tess Gerritsen, NY Times best-selling author of the Rizzoli & Isles novels
    Andy Broussard, the plump and proud New Orleans medical examiner, obviously loves food. Less apparent to the casual observer is his hatred of murderers. Together with his gorgeous sidekick, psychologist Kit Franklyn, the two make a powerful, although improbable, mystery solving duo.
    When the beautiful Kit goes to meet an anonymous stranger—who’s been sending her roses—the man drops dead at her feet before she even could even get his name. Game on.
    Andy Broussard soon learns that the man carried a lethal pathogen similar to the deadly Ebola virus. Soon, another body turns up with the same bug. Panic is imminent as the threat of pandemic is more real than ever before. The danger is even more acute, because the carrier is mobile, his identity is an absolute shocker, he knows he’s a walking weapon and… he’s on a quest to find Broussard. And Kit isn’t safe either. When she investigates her mystery suitor further, she runs afoul of a cold blooded killer, every bit as deadly as the man searching for Broussard.
    Louisiana Fever is written in Donaldson’s unique style: A hard-hitting, punchy, action-packed prose that’s dripping with a folksy, decidedly southern, sense of irony. Add in Donaldson’s brilliant first hand knowledge of forensics and the sultry flavor of New Orleans, and the result is first class forensic procedural within an irresistibly delectable mystery.

Andy Broussard is the true lead in this story. He is not a movie-star character but rather a plump, aging and extremely focused man. He is a unique and eccentric New Orleans medical examiner. He is particular to routine which includes precise procedures and dedication to finding clues to help identify the cause of death and the murderers, when applicable.

Kit is a criminal psychologist who works hand in hand with Andy and the local police, helping to profile and track down killers. Kit is given a cryptic note to meet a mysterious admirer who has been leaving yellow roses for her. She arrives at the restaurant to see a stranger in the corner with a yellow rose. He rises from his seat calling her name and then collapses. The cafe’s indomitable owner, Grandma O, gives CPR with the help of another man until the medics arrive. Unfortunately the man is pronounced dead and there is no identification found. Andy is puzzled by symptoms he discovers during the careful autopsy. Although the man died of a heart attack there is evidence of a more dangerous disease that Andy cannot identify.

Kits boyfriend, Teddy, arrives home just in time to help her begin tracking clues to identify the man. The few clues indicate the man may have spent time on the docks so that is where they begin their search.

Andy is called out to another very gruesome death scene. Walter Baldwin has been found dead, curled in the corner of his closet and with blood splattered throughout his apartment. Some of the symptoms match those of the unknown man and Andy is becoming concerned that a fast acting, contagious disease has hit his town. This fear becomes more than suspicion when one of Andy’s staff becomes ill with the deadly, Ebola-like symptoms.

Kit disappears and after a day of worry and contacting family and friends. the officers learn that she actually was taken in circumstances that indicate a forcible abduction. Andy ardently continues his detailed forensic work, both in the lab and beyond, looking for clues to help uncover the source of the disease and to help find Kit’s kidnappers. Meanwhile he is unwittingly being stalked by Walter’s murderer.

I thoroughly enjoyed the forensic details and clues in this story. It has an beginning hook that provides an unusual lead into the plot.  The mystery of the contagious disease is scary, realistic and wonderfully portrayed with a touch of irony. I especially liked Andy as a character although I found Kit to be self-centered and shallow. New Orleans serves as a great backdrop setting with its colorful cultural elements as well as the surrounding swamp where criminals might seek to hide. The supporting cast, including Homicide Detective Gatlin, Grandma O, Bubba and others are good additional characters of interest. I also appreciate the fact that the language is clean without loosing anything in the offering.

This is the first book I have read by this author and apparently this book is part of a series. This read fine alone but made me want to read the first and subsequent stories. I highly recommend this book and Mr. Donaldson’s other work to readers who love a good mystery, great forensic detail and interesting characters.

(Note: I might have been disturbed that the characters connected with cell phones but the publisher forewarned me that this is a reprint of a book originally published in 1996.)

I am thankful to the author and his publisher for offering the timely guest post by this author and for providing this great forensic mystery for an honest review.
Don't miss the timely guest post by Mr. Donaldson regarding the current Ebola outbreak and CDC.

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